Tue, July 23

City's bed tax debate needs another hearing

There's a good reason we have that old saying about going back to the drawing board.

Some of the best decisions ever made have been those that went ... back to the drawing board.

It might be a good place to go for the Cottonwood City Council, the chamber of commerce and the city's hotel/motel owners.

Late last month, the council approved a request from the chamber to increase the city's bed tax collections from 2 percent to 3 percent.

In response, Cottonwood's hotel/motel owners now have resigned en masse from the chamber. Their beef is that the 1-percent tax hike will not be used exclusively for tourism promotion. They say that a tax on a single classification of business to be used in part for a new chamber visitors' center is unfair. They do not think it is right that they be the only ones responsible for generating the revenue to build a new building for the chamber.

Further, they believe the council should not give bed tax funds to the chamber in the form of a blank check. They believe this money shuffle should have strings attached in the form of a detailed spending plan to promote tourism.

Tuesday, the council had its first reading of the ordinance that would raise the bed tax. The second and final reading is scheduled for Dec. 19.

To steal a page from the Yogi Berra book of philosophy, "It ain't over 'till it's over."

Neither the council nor the chamber should ignore the actions by Cottonwood's hotel/motel owners. A 1-percent hike to the bed tax is not out of line with what other communities levy to promote tourism. At the same time, the request from the hotel/motel owners that there be clear guidelines for how this tax is to be spent is not out of line either.

There needs to be another meeting of the minds by all involved before this ordinance, and subsequent higher tax, is enacted Dec. 19.

There is no need to rush this issue in light of the ill will it has generated among the hotel/motel owners.

It's a classic case of something that needs to be taken back to the drawing board.